The Queen’s House
The Duke of Buckingham’s house, which George III purchased in 1762, was designed by the architect William Winde, possibly with the advice of John Talman, in 1702.
The new house, a handsome brick and stone mansion crowned with statuary and joined by colonnades to outlying wings, looked eastward down the Mall and westwards over the splendid canal and formal gardens, laid out for the Duke by Henry Wise partly on the site of the royal Mulberry Garden. This garden had been part of an ill-fated attempt by James I to introduce a silk industry to rival that of France by planting thousands of mulberry trees.
The building and its setting were well suited to the dignity of the Duke, a former Lord Chamberlain and suitor of Princess Anne, and of his wife, an illegitimate daughter of James II, whose eccentricity and delusions of grandeur earned her the nickname of «Princess Buckingham».
The principal rooms, then as now, were on the first floor. They were reached by a magnificent staircase with ironwork by Jean Tijou and walls painted by Louis Laguerre with the story of Dido and Aeneas.
Under the architectural direction of Sir William Chambers and over the following twelve years The Queen’s House was gradually modernised and enlarged to provide accommodation for the King and Queen and their children, as well as their growing collection of books, pictures and works of art.
QUEEN VICTORIA’S PALACE
At the age of eighteen, Queen Victoria became the first Sovereign to live at Buckingham Palace.
John Nash had rightly predicted that the Palace would prove too small, but this was a fault capable of remedy. The absence of a chapel was made good after the Queen’s marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, when the south conservatory was converted in 1843.
In 1847 the architect Edward Blore added the new East Front. Along the first floor Blore placed the Principal Corridor, a gallery 240 feet long overlooking the Quadrangle and divided into three sections by folding doors of mirror glass. It links the Royal Corridor on the south, and opens into suites of semi-state rooms facing the Mall and St James’s Park. Blore introduced into the East Front some of the finest fittings from George IY’s Royal Pavilion at Brighton, which Queen Victoria ceased to use after the purchase of Osborn House in 1845.
The new building rendered the Marble Arch both functionally and ornamentally dispensable, and it was removed in 1850 to its present site at the north-east corner of Hyde Park.
THE STATE ROOMS
Most of the principal State Rooms are located on to first floor of Bughingham Palace. They are approached from Nash’s Grand Hall which in its unusual low proportions echoes the original hall of Bughingham House. The coupled columns which surround the Hall are each composed of a single block of veined Carrara marble enriched with Corinthian capitals of gilt bronze made by Samuel Parker.
The Grand Staircase, built by Nash on site of the original stairs, divides theatrically into three flights at the first landing, two flights curving upwards to the Guard room. The gilded balustrade was made by Samuel Parker in 1828-30. The walls are set with full-length portraits which include George III and Queen Charlotte by Beechey,William IY by Lawrence and Queen Adelaide by Archer Shee. The sculptured wall panels were designed by Thomas Stothard and the etched glass dome was made by Wainwright and Brothers.
The picture Gallery, the largest room in the Palace, was formed by Nash in the area of Queen Charlotte’s old apartments. Nash’s ceiling, modified by Blore in the 1830s, was altered by Sir Aston Webb in 1914.
As there are many loans to exhibitions, the arrangement is subject to periodic change. However the Gallery normally contains works by Van Dyck, Rubens, Cuyp and Rembrandt among others. The chimneypieces are carved with heads of artists and the marble group at the end, by Chantrey, represents Mrs Jordan, mistress of William.
From the Suilk Tapestry Room the route leads via the East Gallery, Cross and West Galleries to the State Dining Room. This room is used on formal occasions and is hung with portraits of GeorgeIY, his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
THE PALACE AT WORK
BUCKINNGHAM Palace is certainly one of the most famous buildings in the world, known to millions as Queen’s home. Yet it is very much a working building and centre of the large office complex that is required for the administration of the modern monarchy.
Although foreign ambassadors are officially accredited to the Court of St James’s and some ceremonies, such as the Proclamation of a new Sovereign, still take place at St James’s Palace, all official business now effectively takes place at Buckingham Palace.
In some ways the Palace resembles a small town. For the 300 people who work there, there is a Post office and a police station, staff canteens and dinning rooms. There is a special three-man security team equipped with a fluoroscope, which examines every piece of mail that arrives at the Palace.
There is also a soldier who is responsible for making sure the Royal Standard is flying whenever The Queen is in residence, and to make sure it is taken down when she leaves. It is his job to watch for the moment when the Royal limousine turns into the Palace gates - at the very second The Queen enters her Palace, the Royal Standard is hoisted.
Buckingham Palace is not only the name of the Royal Family but also the workplace of an army of secretaries, clerks and typists, telephonists, carpenters and plumbers etc.
The business of monarchy never stops and the light is often shining from the window of the Queen’s study late at night as she works on the famous «boxes», the red and blue leather cases in which are delivered the State papers, official letters and reports which follow her whenever she is in the world.
There can hardly be a single one of 600 or so rooms in the Palace that is not in more or less constant use.
The senior member of the Royal Household is the Lord Chamberlain. In addition to the role of overseeing all the departments of the Household, he has a wide variety of responsibilities, including all ceremonial duties relating to the Sovereign, apart from the wedding, coronation and funeral of the monarch. .These remain the responsibility of the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk. The Lord Chamberlain’s Office has the greatest variety of responsibilities. It looks after all incoming visits by overseas Heads of State and the administration of the Chapels Royal. It also supervises the appointment of Pages of Honour , the Sergeants of Arms, the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, the Master of the Queen’s Music, and the Keeper of the Queen’s Swans.
The director of the Royal Collection is responsible for one of the finest collections of works of art in the world. The Royal Collection is a vast assemblage of works of art of all kinds, comprising some 10,000 pictures, enamels and miniatures, 20,000 drawings, 10,000 watercolours and 500,000 prints, and many thousands of pieces of furniture, sculpture, glass, porcelain, arms and armour, textiles, silver, gold and jewellery.
It has largely been formed by succeeding sovereigns, consorts and other members of the Royal Family in the three hundred years since the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.
The Collection is presently housed in twelve principal locations open to the public, which include Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle, The Palace of Holyroodhouse and Osborne House.
In addition a substantial number of objects are on indefinite loan to the British Museum, National Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum and Museum of London.
Additional access to the Royal Collection is provided by means of exhibitions, notably at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, opened in 1962.
Windsor Castle is the oldest royal residence to have remained in continuous use by the monarchs of Britain and is in many ways an architectural epitome of the history of the nation. Its skyline of battlements, turrets and the great Round Tower is instantly recognised throughout the world. The Castle covers an area of nearly thirteen acres and contains, as well as a royal palace, a magnificent collegiate church and the homes or workplaces of a large number of people ,including the Constable and Governor of the Castle, the Military Knights of Windsor and their families, etc.
The Castle was founded by William the Conqueror c. 1080 and was conceived as one of a chain of fortifications built as a defensive ring round London.
Norman castles were built to a standard plan with an artificial earthen mound supporting a tower or keep, the entrance to which was protected by an outer fenced courtyard or baily. Windsor is the most notable example of a particularly distinctive version of this basic plan developed for use on a ridge site. It comprises a central mote with a large bialy to either side of it rather than just on one side as was more than usual.
As first built, the Castle was entirely defensive, constructed of earth and timber, but easy access from London and the proximity of the Castle to the old royal hunting forest to the south soon recommended it as a royal residence. Henry I is known to have had domestic quarterswithin the castle as early as 1110 and Henry converted the Castle into a palace. He built two separate sets of royal apartments within the fortified enclosure: a public or official state residence in the Lower Ward, with a hall where he could entertain his court and the barons on great occasions, and a smaller private residence on the North side of the Upper Ward for the exclusive occupation of himself and his family.
Henry II was a great builder at all his residences. He began to replace the old timber outer walls of the Upper Ward with a hard heath stone found ten miles south of Windsor. The basic curtain wall round the Upper Ward, much modified by later alterations and improvements, dates from Henry II’s time, as does the old part of the stone keep, known as the Round Tower , on top of William’s the Conqueror’s mote. The reconstruction of the curtain wall round the Lower Ward was completed over the next sixty years. The well-preserved section visible from the High street with its three half-round towers was built by Henry III in the 1220s.He took a keen personal interest in all his projects and carried out extensive works at Windsor. In his time it became one of the three principal royal palaces alongside those at Westminster and Winchester. He rebuilt Henry II’s apartments in the Lower Ward and added there a large new chapel, all forming a coherently planned layout round a courtyard with a cloister; parts survive embedded in later structures in the Lower Ward. He also further improved the royal private apartments in the Upper Ward.
The outstanding medieval expansion of Windsor, however, took place in the reign of Edward III. His huge building project at the Castle was probably the most ambitious single architectural scheme in the whole history of the English royal residences, and cost the astonishing total of 50,772 pounds. Rebuilt with the proceeds of the King’s military triumphs, the Castle was converted by Edward III into a fortified palace redolent of chivalry The stone base was and military glory, as the centre of his court and the seat of his newly founded Order of the Garter .Even today, the massive Gothic architecture of Windsor reflects Edward III’s medieval ideal of Christian, chivalric monarchy as clearly as Louis XIY’s Versailles represents baroque absolutism.
The Lower Ward was reconstructed, the old royal lodgings being transformed into the College of St George, and a new cloister, which still survives, built with traceeried windows. In addition there were to be twenty-six Poor Knights. Henry III’s chapel was made over for their use, rebuilt and renamed St George’s Chapel.
The reconstruction of the Upper Ward was begun in 1357 with new royal lodgings built of stone under the direction of William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester. An inner gatehouse with cylindrical towers was built at the entrance to the Upper Ward.Stone-vaulted undercrofts supported extensive royal apartments on the first floor with separate sets of rooms for the King and the Queen ( as was the tradition of the English royal palaces),arranged round two inner courtyards later known as Brick Court and Horn Court .Along the south side, facing the quadrangle, were the Great Hall and Royal Chapel end to end. Edward IY built the present larger St George’s Chapel to the west of Henry III’s.Henry YII remodelled the old chapel ( now the Albert Memorial Chapel) at its east end; he also added a new range to the west of the State Apartments which Elizabeth I extended by a long gallery .
During the English Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century, the Castle was seized by Parliamentary forces who ill-treated the buildings and used part of them as a prison for Royalists.
At the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 Charles II was determined to reinstate the old glories of the Crown after the interval of the Commonwealth. Windsor was his favourite non-metropolitan palace and it was the only one which could be effectively garrisoned.
The architect Hugh May was appointed in 1673 to supervise the work and over the next eleven years the Upper Ward and State Apartments were reconstructed. The result was both ingenious and magnificent, making the Upper Ward the most unusual palace in baroque Europe.
The interior was a rich contrast to the austerity of the exterior and formed the first and grandest sequence of baroque State Apartments in England.The ceilings were painted by Antonio Verrio, an Italian artist brought from Paris by the Duke of Montagu, Charles II’s ambassador to Louis XIY. The walls were wainscoted in oak and festooned with brilliant virtuoso carvings by Grinling Gibbons and Henry Phillips of fruit, flowers, fish and birds The climax of Charles II’s reconstruction was St George’s Hall and the King’s Chapel with murals by Verrio. In the former there were historical scenes of Edward III and the Black Prince, as well as Charles II in Grater robes enthroned in glory, and in the latter Christ’s miracles and the Last Supper. All were destroyed by Wyatville inn 1829. The source of inspiration for the new rooms at Windsor was the France of Louis XIY, but the use of wood rather than coloured marbles gave Windsor a different character and established a fashion which was copied in many English country houses.
William III and the early Hanoverian kings spent more time at Hampton Court than at Windsor. Windsor, however, came back into its own in the reign of George III, who disliked Hampton Court, which had unhappy memories for him
From 1777 George III reconstructed the Queen’s Lodge to the south of the Castle. He also restored St George’s Chapel in the 1780s.At the same time a new state entrance and Gothic staircase were constructed for the State Apartments.
As well as his work in the Castle, George III modernised Frogmore in the Home Park as a retreat for his wife, Queen Charlotte, and reclaimed some of the Great Park for agriculture. The King designed a special Windsor uniform of blue cloth with red and gold facings, a version of which is still worn on occasions today. The King loved the Castle and its romantic associations. In 1805 he revived the formal ceremonies of installation of Knights of the Garter at Windsor.
When George IY inherited the throne, he shared his father’s romantic architectural enthusiasm for Windsor and determined to continue the Gothic transformation and the creation of convenient, comfortable and splendid new royal apartments.
In many ways Windsor Castle enjoyed its apogee in the reign of Queen Victoria.. She spent the largest portion of every year at Windsor, and in her reign it enjoyed the position of principal palace of the British monarchy and the focus of the British Empire as well as nearly the whole of royal Europe. The Castle was visited by heads of state from all over the world and was the scene of a series of splendid state visits. On these occasions the state rooms were used for their original purpose by royal guests. The visits of King Louis Philippe in 1844 and the Emperor Napoleon III inn 1855 were especially successful. They were invested at Windsor with the Order of the Garter in formal ceremonies, as on other occasions were King Victor Emanuel I of Italy and the Emperor William I of Germany. For the most of the twentieth century Windsor Castle survived as it was in the nineteenth century. The Queen and her family spend most of their private weekends at the Castle.
A distinctive feature of hospitality at Windsor Castle are the invitations to «dine and sleep» which go back to Queen Victoria’s time and encompass people prominent in many walks of life including The Queen’s ministers. On such occasions, The Queen shows her guests a specially chosen exhibition of treasures from the Royal Collection.
THE GALLERY,THE CHINA MUSEUM
The central vaulted undercroft, originally created by James Wyatt and extended in the same style by Jeffry Wyatville to serve as the principal entrance hall to the State Apartments, was cut off when the Grand Staircase was reoriented in the reign of Queen Victoria. It has recently been redesigned and now houses a changing exhibition of works of art from the Royal Collection, which include Old Master drawings from the world-famous Print Room in the Royal Library.
The carved Ionic capitals of the columns survive from Hugh May’s alterations for Charles II. In cases round the walls are displayed magnificent china services from leading English and European porcelain manufacturers: Serves, Meiden, Copenhagen, Naples, Rockingham and Worchester. These are still used for royal banquets and other important occasions.
There are some famous paintings in Windsor Castle: Van Dyke’s «Triple Portrait of Charles I» painted to send to Bernie in Italy to enable him to sculpture a bust of the King; Colonel John St.Leger, a friend of the Prince Regent, by Gainsborough;Vermeer’s portrait of a lady at the virginals; The five eldest children of Charles I by Van Dyke; John Singleton Copley, the American artist, painted the three youngest daughters of George III and Queen Charlotte:Princesses Mary, Sophia and Amelia, none of whom left legitimate descendants and The Campo SS. GiovanniiePaoloCanalettoetc.